In recent years, Sub-Saharan Africa has become the world's second fastest growing region. It trails closely behind Asia's emerging economies. A burgeoning telecommunications sector, with increased internet and mobile phone use, has attracted a high level of foreign direct investment to the region. To a lesser but noticeable extent, growth in financial services and manufacturing is also solidifying Africa's status as a place to watch. According to the latest World Bank report, Africa’s growth is predicted to continue to rise to 3.2 percent by the end of 2018 and to a further 3.7 by 2020.
Which countries are currently taking the lead in Africa's development? This article looks into five of the continent's rising stars.
Traditionally, Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, producing almost 2 million barrels per day. This production, plus high levels of oil exports around the globe, provides Nigeria with a large amount of revenue. However, Nigeria's economy is now very diversified and includes several non-oil and services sectors such as agriculture, banking and IT. According to the World Bank, the services sectors will largely contribute to predicted GDP growth of 2 percent this year. Nigeria's positive prospects are a stark contrast to the painful recession the country was in only a couple of years ago. Nigeria is not completely out of the woods yet though. It faces high population growth which outpaces economic growth, and it is plagued by government corruption. Fortunately, Nigeria's growing young middle class population will hold it in good stead for the future. If officials are able to improve infrastructure and continue to invest highly in education, Nigeria should be able to constrict population growth and further reduce poverty.
Ethiopia is one of Africa's most rapidly developing countries. The International Monetary Fund has predicted that Ethiopia's GDP will expand 8.5 percent this year. But unlike Nigeria's recent upturn, the Ethiopian economy has been on an upwards trajectory for a while. Growth has averaged 10 percent in the last decade. Government investment in infrastructure, namely large-scale railway, skyscraper and dam projects, is said to be a key driver of this growth. Ethiopia's potential is such that experts have dubbed it the "New China". Low wages have made the country Africa's fast fashion capital, with brands like H&M, Guess and several Chinese clothing retailers opening production facilities there. Plus, a recent privatization push means that Ethiopia will likely attract increasingly more foreign investment over the coming years.
Once hampered by hunger and poverty due to military coups, Ghana is now one of Africa's fastest growing and politically stable economies. Its projected growth in 2018 is between 8.3 and 8.9 percent. The Ghanaian GDP is largely concentrated on commodities, with gold, oil and cocoa making up three quarters of its total exports. However, Ghana's economy is becoming increasingly technology oriented, and its telecoms industry has been driving significant growth. There are over 35 million mobile phone subscriptions, making the West African gem one of Africa's largest mobile markets. This widespread technology adoption, alongside Ghana's strong education system, has made Ghana attractive to outside investors like Google. The tech giant has just made plans to open Africa's first artificial intelligence research centre in Accra, Ghana's capital. Plus, with the recent launch of the Ghana Tech Summit, a yearly conference bringing together Africa's best in tech, the country's innovation potential couldn't look better.
Kenya is another African economy which has made strides in making useful technology accessible to the masses. The lower income country is best known as an attractive safari destination, investing substantially in preserving its wildlife which contributes around 14 percent of its GDP. However, tourism is not the only industry driving Kenya's growth. Mobile phone use is growing exponentially - shipments of the devices grew by 7.9 percent in Q3 2018. And as a country with limited access to internet, Kenya has surely innovated with its use of the SMS-based mobile payments system M-Pesa. M-Pesa allows citizens to send small payments, make international transfers, take out loans, and invest in their healthcare - all via text message. This is especially beneficial to Kenya's growing number of small businesses, which now find it easier than ever to make transactions.
The slightly lesser known Benin also has significant growth potential. The country benefits from a young population - almost 65 percent of its citizens are under the age of 25. However, many of its young citizens are unemployed as there are few opportunities in Benin. In fact, 40 percent of Beninese nationals live abroad. So why is this country, dubbed of the world's poorest, on this list of African rising stars? It's leaders have big plans for its future. Benin is currently executing its 2016-2021 plan (also known as ‘Benin Revealed’) which leaders say will improve public investments, especially in sectors like tourism, infrastructure, services and agriculture.